Thursday, 1 March 2012

Antony calls on under-fire HAL to restructure

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 1st March 12

Defence Minister AK Antony today called on under-fire aerospace giant, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), to strengthen itself with strategic alliances and joint ventures, and to invest more in R&D to remain globally competitive.

There is growing recognition that HAL, the Bangalore-headquartered, Rs 13,000 crore, defence public sector undertaking is under-prepared for the major challenges it faces. These include the ongoing projects to design and build the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH); Light Utility Helicopter (LUH); the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT); the Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA); Basic Trainer Aircraft; and the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) with Russia. In addition, HAL is required to set up new production lines for the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA); and the Rafale Medium Multi-role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).

The Parliamentary Consultative Committee for Defence, which met Antony today, criticized HAL for production delays in the Tejas, which had led to the MiG-21 remaining in service beyond its service life; and for HAL’s singular lack of success in the export market.

Addressing these concerns, the MoD today confirmed that an expert group, under BK Chaturvedi, a Planning Commission Member, would shortly recommend measures to restructure HAL. The expert group has already met twice.

According to the MoD, the expert group will suggest ways of involving the private industry in assisting HAL to meet its bulging order book commitments; and in creating synergy between HAL, private defence players, and non-defence private industry. The expert Group is also required to assess HAL’s future technological and human resource requirements.

Antony told the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Defence that HAL needs to partner with design laboratories from the DRDO and CSIR in developing indigenous aircraft, engines and systems. He also urged HAL to adopt global best practices in project management, quality control, vendor deployment and supply chain management.

The defence minister, however, did not mention that HAL has functioned without a permanent CEO for the last four months. The MoD has not yet cleared a new chairman, even though the previous chairman, Ashok Nayak, retired last October. HAL currently functions under an acting chairman, PV Deshmukh.

Antony informed the Consultative Committee that permitting the private sector into defence production, and the defence offset policy, would bring the private sector into military aerospace. In fact, the private sector has made only tentative forays into aerospace, even though its entry was permitted in 2001; and the offset policy has been in place since 2005.

At the same meeting, Minister of State for Defence, MM Pallam Raju said that HAL would increasingly play the role of system integrator. This would bring in the private sector as Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers to HAL.

But the CEO of a major private sector defence company told Business Standard that major private sector participation would remain unlikely, as long as the playing field remained tilted against it, and special privileges were granted to public sector enterprises like HAL.

The MPs who attended the Consultative Committee meeting today included Manish Tewari, Naveen Jindal, Suresh Kalmadi, Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, Kalkesh N Singh Deo, Murli Manohar Joshi, SS Ramasubbu, Shashi Tharoor, Bal Apte, Mahender Prasad, HK Dua and Ishwar Lal Jain.


Indranil said...

Suresh Kalmadi the consultative committee :)

Anonymous said...

How come Suresh Kalmadi was part of this committee? ?

joydeep ghosh said...

@Ajai sir

You forgot to mention about the AMCA which is still in design stages.

as for the solution, the best option is to trifurcate HAL into exports company (taking care of all exports), rotary company (all helos), and fixed wing company (all jets).

Most importantly offload 10-20% shares of all 3 in the open market, to bring in more financial transperancy and scrutiny. Only then i expect that HAL will be able to perform as expected of aircraft company in 21st centuary


Joydeep Ghosh

Mr. Ra said...

In-spite of numerous obstacles to be overcome, this should be considered as a welcome refreshing change that shall be strictly adhered to with duly providing the level playing fields.

Anonymous said...

Manish Tewari, Naveen Jindal, Suresh Kalmadi, Brijbhushan Sharan Singh, Kalkesh N Singh Deo, Murli Manohar Joshi, SS Ramasubbu, Shashi Tharoor, Bal Apte, Mahender Prasad, HK Dua and Ishwar Lal Jain... ipl kochi tuskers... steel marketeer... cwg... should we read the former list... as the latter list...

Anonymous said...

Forget about re-structuring HAL, just privatize it. Either sell it to a highest Indian bidder, or spin it off an an independent company, held by share holders.

Anonymous said...

Suresh Kalmadi the consultative committee :)My goodness!!!!

Anonymous said...

Why don't we buy project management for HAL. If HAL can be run by people having professional experience in project management, I think 50 % problem will be solved

Anonymous said...

Suresh Kalmadi is a NDA alumni and served as a pilot in the Indian Air Force for 10 years.

Abhiman said...

HAL today is just a license manufacturer. Its mandate seems to be to copy-paste foreign products and sell them to the armed forces.

And when one has an exclusive monopoly over one of the largest armed forces in the world, then obviously inefficiencies will creep in.

HAL is also to be blamed for much of the delays in the Tejas.

So, let private players get technology from DRDO and ADA. Then and only then will HAL come to its knees.